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ISBN:076243371X
Author: Francois Neveux
ISBN13: 978-0762433711
Title: A Brief History of the Normans
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Language: English
Category: Europe
Publisher: Running Press (June 3, 2008)
Pages: 288

A Brief History of the Normans by Francois Neveux



The history of the Normans began a long time before 1066. Beginning as Viking raiders in the eighth century. Francois Neveux is the leading medieval historian in France and has written numerous books on the Normans. He is the Professor of History at Caen University. Series: Brief History of.

The history of the Normans began a long time before 1066. Beginning as Viking raiders in the eighth century, the Normans not only changed the landscape of Europe but were changed by their new conquests.

There's an excellent chronology which includes the Vikings in England and Neustia in the 700s to the 1200s with the last of the Norman kings in southern Italy. This is a useful brief overview of the Normans and quite readable. However I don't think I've ever read a book with so many typographical errors - it seems to have escaped the proof-reading process. This is an exceptional view from the Norman viewpoint: the author writes from a Norman University. It contains a rare treatment of the whole founding and development of Normandy, expatiating greatly on areas not concerned with war. This kind of information is hard to come by. However, the author could delve more deeply into the results of the Norman Era, especially in the fecund, verdant fields of Sicily and Italy.

Robert the Magnificent and William the Conqueror get a chapter each. Then there's something of a digression covering the Hauteville brothers and the Norman conquests in southern Italy and Sicily, before a less detailed.

Normans: The History of a Dynasty (Overview of the Norman period with focus on the early crusades) David Crouch, Hambledon Continuum, 2006. Normans in Norfolk (Readable report of the Norman impact on Norfolk) Sue Margeson, Norfolk Museums Service, 1994. Norman England (Illustrated book that explores the Norman lifestyle and interaction with Anglo-Saxon English) Trevor Rowley, English Heritage, 1997.

French historian Francois Neveux does a fairly good job of being succinct while retaining a fair amount of detail. As Viking raiders in the eighth century, the Normans not only changed the landscape and culture of Europe but were themselves changed by their new conquests. As a military force they became unstoppable; as conquerors they established their own kingdom in Normandy from where they set out on a number of devastating campaigns, spreading innovations in politics, architecture and culture.

A Brief History of the Normans : The Conquests that Changed the Face of Europe.

The history of the Normans began long before 1066 A.D. Originating from the “Norsemen,” they were one of the most successful warrior tribes of the Dark Ages dominating Europe from the Baltic Sea to the island of Sicily and the borders of Eastern Europe. As a military force they were unstoppable; as conquerors, they established their own kingdom in Normandy from where they set out on a number of devastating campaigns, as well as introduced innovations in politics, architecture and culture.
Reviews: 7
Jeyn
If you're related to (or fascinated by) the Normans this is a very interesting book on where they came from and what they did. I'm most interested in the continuity of their relationship to their Viking/Norseman past and this book does give indications of the strength of that as they evolved and moved through Normandy and England (and Italy). It is also possible to read between the lines and see the interconnectivity of their roots and the events that shaped the Norman conquest of England and the earlier viking raids and invasions.

The book is well written although in places the conclusions the author draws seem to contradict, maybe a translation problem, but anyway, a good book, very interesting and not too long. Well worth it.
Whiteflame
Dry in areas. Could have been quite a bit better with a bit more work.

Solid 4-star rating.

I would like to provide textual content on that Rating as part of this Review, however am unable to do so. The ACDLT has restricted (without warning, specific notification, identification of specific problems or appeal). That being so, an inability to respond to Review comments by others (positive, negative, indifferent) would be unfair to myself and others.

But it is a solid 4-star book in this genre.
Reemiel
This is an exceptional view from the Norman viewpoint: the author writes from a Norman University. It contains a rare treatment of the whole founding and development of Normandy, expatiating greatly on areas not concerned with war. This kind of information is hard to come by. However, the author could delve more deeply into the results of the Norman Era, especially in the fecund, verdant fields of Sicily and Italy.
Zonama
I was unaware that the Normans were world travelers, conquerers and occupiers until I read this book.
CONVERSE
A brief History of the Normans, quite comprehensive. Really more than I bargained for as I am in the process of exploring the Norman royalty for The Friday Morning Study Club whose focus for the talks this year is" Royalties ". I am further researching material concerning specifically Norman royalty. The more that I read of this however, I find that in all of the detail history lies basis for what it is that I need most. This is an interesting academic involvment for which I am grateful for the opportunity to delve into. These were wild and woolly times to say the least and I suppose you have to know this to appreciate the characters who evolved as " royalties "..
Faegal
This book is a valuable summary and well-worth reading because it is written from the French perspective by a French historian. Among other elements, it focuses on the origins of the Normans and of the Duchy of Normandy which is something that only a few British authors have being doing since the 1980s (David Bates and Marjorie Chibnall).

French historians tend to view the Normans as "Norman-Franks", with a small number of descendants of the original "Vikings" quickly integrating and becoming part of the Frankish and Carolingian world. This contrasts with a tendency to see them as standing apart from the Franks and rather insisting on their Scandinavian heritage. The main merit of this book is to show, especially through the first chapters, that the Normans' origins were decidedly mixed, with the periods up to 1066 making up the first - and very much the better - half of this book.

The second half, however, is not as good. To some extent, the book's title is even a bit of a misnomer. The book is allegedly about the "Conquests that changed the face of Europe". In fact, it is mostly about the formation of the Duchy of Normandy and the conquest of England, with a little piece added almost as an afterthought on the conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily, and next to nothing about the conquests of Antioch (which is arguably not in Europe) or the beginning of the conquest of Ireland under Henry II, which definitely is part of Europe.

Another issue, which does become problematic at times, is a pro-Norman bias that other reviewers have already commented upon. For instance, while Edward the Confessor does seem to have shown favor to the Normans and was half Norman himself and related to the Norman Dukes, the author's statement that he promised the throne to William would have at the very least needed further explanations and qualifications, all of which are missing. Therefore painting Harold as a usurper in terms of dynastic rights and William as somehow having a legitimate claim is indeed rather biaised: both were "usurpers" to the extent that Edgar Aetheling had the best claim but, of course, as a minor and with no military backing, he had no say in the matter.

There are other issues as well. At times, the book largely glosses over whole episodes of the "conquests", whether that of England or that of Southern Italy and Sicily. For instance, it does not really convey the fact that William, despite his "crushing" victory over the "Anglo-Saxons" (more accurately "Anglo-Scandinavians") spent the next 15 years or so of his reign putting down multiple rebellions and not only fending- off attacks from the sea (the Danes) or the north (Scotland) against his newly conquered kingdom, and against Normandy by the Kings of France and the Counts of Anjou. Other issues are concentrated in the last chapter which in a mere dozen of pages deals with the successors of William of Normandy and of the Hauteville brothers. Allegedly, the times of conquest and expansion had come and gone by then, although this is a statement that is very much based on hindsight. One last issue is the rather significant number of typos, some of which are both glaring and annoying.

This was, for me, a three star book, mainly because of the first half, which was both good and original whereas the second half was largely conventional and at times disappointing.
Xanzay
Neveux covers the 20,000 foot overview of the Normans, from their humble beginnings in the Viking migrations to their eventual decline. The book succeeds precisely because it does not delve too far into any one event or person, but rather tries to tell the whole narrative of the Normans without getting bogged down. One can read any number of books on the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and this is certainly *not* the book to give one all the details of that particular event. But what this book does quite well is bring other Norman people and conquests to a place of rightful prominence in the wider history of Europe. The Normans shaped history in the boot of Italy and Sicily as well as playing important roles during the Crusades (like taking control of Antioch), and Neveux's book gives enough time to each story to leave a reader both sated and piqued.

This book is ideal for getting the high points of the Normans and their history. It is well worth reading for anyone who has either a narrow understanding of the Normans (say, 1066 only) or who wants to get the whole picture and jump off into more detailed books when a topic interests them. I found the book an enjoyable and easy read (a few typos aside). As an aside, Lars Brownworth has a podcast called 'Norman Centuries' that covers much of this same basic material and is another excellent place to start when learning about the Normans.